Reno 911 creators Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon must have a thing for men in hot pants. In this slapstick comedy about the sport with the tiniest balls, the scriptwriting duo blasts 80s metal, rolls out the one-liners and puts Christopher Walken in Elton John-meets-Queen-Amidala kimonos.
It’s the kind of formula that only works if everyone in it soars, and, stuffed into said shorts and sporting jagged muttonchops, Dan Fogler is balls-out funny as washed-out ping pong wunderkind Randy Daytona. After a dramatic fall from grace in the late 80s, Daytona is back in the game. He’d lost his father/coach, who gambled on a match and got pinged by the evil Feng (Walken). When FBI agent Rodriguez (George Lopez) makes it his mission to catch Feng, he enlists Randy to compete in a privately held tournament of champions at Feng’s lair.
Despite attempts to poke fun at its own exaggerated Asian fetishism, Balls of Fury serves up a typical West-meets-East gag sub-theme. In the Chinatown mafia-ridden core of the sport, “Ping pong is not played for trophies, but for hard cash in dark alleys and cheap, ugly women.” Though in Randy’s case a more becoming prize surfaces in the form of Maggie Wong (Maggie Q). Blind noodle shop owner and ping pong guru Master Wong (Richard Hong) does a fine twist on Mr. Miyagi, bringing the once-champ back to form. But, beyond its first hour, the film starts to dry out like a stinking sweatband. You’ll know you’ve had your fun once the balls begin flying with more frequency than laughs and all plot turns to putty.